Profiles: Marc Isaacs

Marc Isaacs

Marc Isaacs

MS 75

President and CEO at Sun Orchard Inc.

A Juicy Business

Growing up in Syracuse, New York in a typical 1950s American family, Marc was an average student and an enthusiastic athlete. He was good enough on the mats to be recruited at a State University in Potsdam to major in business. The only drawback was that his school had no business program. He transferred to the State University of New York, Albany which was recognized for its strong business school and did well.

But when he failed to gain a seat in law school he began looking at other careers. Still fascinated by politics, he joined the staff of a state senator who was a family friend during his college days at Albany and worked his way through school. It was his first behind-the-scenes look at the political process. During the process of applying for law school, he first heard about Golden Gate University. When he left the office of the state senator, he considered his options. Golden Gate was again on his radar.

So he and a girlfriend loaded what little they owned into a car and drove across country. Marc spent his days behind the counter at a sandwich shop and his nights in class. One of his favorite instructors was Bill Taggart, one of the legendary founders of the GGU Tax School. Not long after completing his degree and passing the CPA exam in 1975, Marc went to work for Touche Ross, one of the Big Eight accounting firms. Then in 1979, he received an offer to join a large Phoenix firm that specialized in tax where he met the client whom he would join in starting the real estate syndication company.

Sun Orchard is one of the country's larger purveyors of fruit juice and beverages to the foodservice and hospitality industry. Today, his company produces some 9 million gallons of juices and bar mixes, mostly private label annually, and is one of the leaders in the premium juice industry.

Marc Isaacs more or less landed in the juice business by happenstance. In the early 1980s he left the large accounting firm where he'd been working in Phoenix to help form a real estate syndication company and before that in accounting firms, among them one of the Big Eight.

Sun Orchard was only a few years old at the time and struggling. Founded in Tempe, Arizona in 1984, it was initially a packinghouse operation, but the Arizona landscape was changing rapidly as citrus groves gave way to subdivisions. By the time Marc came along in 1990 as the CFO of the owner's entire operation. Sun Orchard was buying citrus eliminations from area growers and packinghouses. Eliminations is citrus which doesn't look good enough for store produce sections, but still provides excellent tasting juice. Using this fruit and their extractors, Sun Orchard's first major sustainability project began a focus that continues today.

Marc ultimately became the CEO. Drawing upon his turnaround skills, he set to work, expanding gross revenue by more than ten times and substantially enhancing profitability over the next twenty-five years. Today, Sun Orchard has over 200 employees at facilities in Tempe and Florida. Marc and his business partner believed that Sun Orchard could become a national presence. It was an ambitious plan, given that the company's revenue at that time was an estimated $6 to $7 million and it was losing money. Ultimately, though they were correct and current revenue is estimated at over $75 million.

He was one of the founders and leaders of the American Fresh Juice Council, a coalition of fresh-juice makers who were focused on developing methods other than the traditional heat pasteurization to improve the safety of their products.